Monday, September 26, 2011

Česká republika

It seems so surreal that I'm in the Czech Republic now. Living somewhere... a home with my own room and a family. If you'd suggested this was my future two months ago, I wouldn't have been able to contain my laughter. But, here I am.

I haven't even been here a week and I'm considering extending my stay. The family is wonderful. The two boys, Maty and Miky are sweeties. My camera's broken again - basically if I leave the battery out for a day or two it'll be good for a few photos. Maty prepared a picnic for us on my second day, filled up a picnic basket with everything we'd need (including newspaper as our picnic mats) and we set off to their summer house in Ctiboř. I'm sad I didn't manage any photos of the picnic, it was wonderful. A little lad after my own heart!

The Czech Republic is a beautiful, lush country. Things are still quite different to home though. For example, dogs can ride on buses (even on a seat). People don't really seem to smile here... overall it seems to be a pretty "cold" country - I can't interact with locals yet, so I'm not the best gauge, but you don't see people chatting away in shops as you would in NZ.

I took a day trip to České Budějovice today, mostly to see if I could handle the public transport (which all seems to run late). It was a beautiful little town with pastel coloured buildings. While I stood in the square, admiring the archeiture, I couldn't help but feel a little bit sad for my home city, Christchurch. Almost all of our heritage buildings were lost in the quake.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend! I'm going to spend three days in Prague :-) one of my favourite NZ bands is playing on Saturday, which will be a lot of fun, although I think I'm heading in alone. And I'll probably see *that* lad. Ahhhhhhh :-)

New adventures :D

Monday, September 19, 2011

colourful worries

If I'm completely honest, I'm worrying a little bit (read: completely freaking out). This "trip" is supposed to stretch a long period of time -- a few years, at least. Europe was always part of the plan, but not yet. The feelings I had a few weeks ago, and the momentum I had, has subsided a little, maybe a lot. I trust myself and in the decisions I made, but I'm feeling a whole range of emotions right now. I'm trying to decode my decisions; to make sense of things that maybe just don't make any sense. I booked flights because I wanted to and now I'm going because I want(ed) to.

I'm not scared of it being amazing, I know it will be. I'm just scared of all the details. I also don't really want to pack, although I have to. So, I decided to give myself a little while to procrastinate. I found my sketch book and colouring pens in my suitcase and thought I might as well put them to good use.

Here is my worry list. All the things that are playing on my mind right now. Somehow, writing it out (in rainbow fashion, of course) made the weight of it all feel a little less. significant.

Also, I thought I'd attach a picture of my room at the moment. All of that has to go into that little suitcase. It has to be under 23kgs (70lbs) - HAHA!

Where's Mary Poppins when you need her?

(incase you can't read the yellow - it says "falling in love with Czech Republic and having to leave" - Dean, let's get married ;) )

Friday, September 16, 2011


Today I made a conscious effort to breathe Takeo in -- to savor her. I fell for her badly in February and pined to be back. Tomorrow I have to leave her. Despite this I feel truly blessed that at this stage of my life I'm letting myself be selfish. I want to randomly go to the Czech Republic for the next four months, sure, why not? I want to go back to this tiny little town, in rural Cambodia, for two weeks, okay, let's go! I'm free and today was a day where I made a conscious effort to be grateful and to notice the little things.

The details that could get lost easily within the year.

I biked around the dirt roads and paid attention to how things had changed since February. How the torrential rain I'd battled with, only days earlier, had made everything so lush. I went to the local market and bought the most delicious corn in the entire world. I fed bunny rabbits, pushed giggling kids on swings, and smiled until my cheeks were tight. I went to my favourite cafe and paid 1000 reil for a delicious iced coffee to take away. I was gifted bracelets. I had cuddles. Two of the kids had hurt hands/fingers, so I bought some tiger balm and ice and helped soothe them. I brushed the hair of a girl who was feeling a little sad. I had a little photoshoot with some of the girls. Then I biked home, watching the firey red sun melt into shades of purple and pink -- perfection?

Ps. My camera's a little broken. It stopped working for an entire day (thank-you aforementioned torrential rain) -- I painted my nails sparkly coral and had some T-R-I-P-L-E chocolate ice cream to balance everything out. I'm happy; she's playing nice again, although I think my settings are a bit funny. Bare with me, while we iron this one out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


When I saw these two little boys sitting down like this, my heart skipped a beat. How delicious do they look? Those glasses are just a dream.

In a week I'll be in Paris (for the day, oh my) and then on my way to Prague. As each day comes and passes, it feels a little more real and a little more right. A part of me is worried as this is the furtherest I've been from home since my world came crashing down in February. I'm worried there will be another earthquake. I'm worried I'll lose someone else. I suppose there's a part of me that is sad to be leaving Asia, too. In a way it feels like home.

My feet are on the edge of great change. I know this will be one of those periods in time where I look back, fondly, and know that everything is how it is because of this decision. There's a lot of quiet space within me; I wonder if the noise has been shifted out so I can make space for the new. I'm a tiny bit nervous now (honestly, I had wee freak out the other day) but more than anything I am excited.

This week I'm taking Marina's advice: Smile, just smile.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

a little girl

One day I hope to meet a man, who makes me feel like this:

This is the first day of my life
I swear I was born right in the doorway
I went out in the rain suddenly everything changed
They're spreading blankets on the beach

Yours is the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
Now I don’t know where I am
I don’t know where I’ve been
But I know where I want to go
Bright Eyes - First Day Of My Life

And then sometime after we've figured out this is a forever gig, we can take the best of us and craft the most wonderful little person. I want my daughter to be a daddy's girl, though when she falls I want her to need me. I'll braid her hair and read her all of my favourite childhood books. We'll sing and dance everywhere. I'll tuck her into bed a little tighter than necessary, so that she always feels wrapped up in my love. We'll make magic in the kitchen. I'll provide her with every opportunity under the sun. We'll laugh until our cheeks are sore. I'll look into her eyes in awe and wonder how I made something so scrumptious. And she'll never question if she's loved, because she'll feel it in each breath I take.

This is what I want for my daughter. I look forward to being a mama, but I know that's a million years away from now. I'm okay with that, I've got so much to do and having a child does restrict you, in terms of travel at least. I'm also missing a pretty key component in that whole baby making process *cough cough eligible bachelors email me*

It breaks my heart to see kids at the orphanage who haven't had parents who love them passionately. Some of them have been abused and neglected. One little boy was found, two years ago, wandering the village, rummaging in rubbish bins for food, severely underweight and underdeveloped - he's still tiny. A brother and sister watched their father murder their mother in front of their eyes. In my mind, children are a precious gift that need to be treasured. I can't understand how adults can hurt children, let alone their own.

This little girl is Srey Mao. Srey means girl in Khmer, so half of the girls at the centre are called Srey. I wonder if the Czech Republic's customs officials would notice her stowed as carry on? She's ridiculously wonderful and that smile is contagious. While I don't have any children of my own, I'm quite happy to invest all of my love into the kids at NFO. I hope, through the time other volunteers and I spend with them, they can understand how precious and loved they really are.

I've only got a week left here in Takeo and I'm going to make sure it's amazing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

the photo that started everything

Okay, so by now you should know the story... I met a handsome lad in Asia, fancied him a bit, followed him and his wonderful friend around Asia for a while and had a great time. He left, I felt weird and decided I was moving to (near) Prague, for a while. I will refer to him as the catalyst and everything else as the reasons I'm going to the Czech Republic.

In August 2009 I wrote my Facebook status as "I want to run away" and when my friends questioned where, I said: "Prague". Somewhere along the way, I'd decided I would love Prague. I can't remember if someone told me I would, or if I just started googling places to go. Maybe it was the fact that Lonely Planet told me that chocolate bars were only 9 cents. I'm not really sure what it was, but I remember googling Prague and I found this photo. And I fell in love.

I can't wait to stand on the little cobblestone streets, starring in awe at the beautiful buildings (read: castles), while I dig my feet in. Soon I'll be realising the little wish my twenty-one-year-old self had on a random day in August. Almost two years have passed and now I'm finally running away to Prague.

I have a familiar feeling. The same one felt when I watched Slumdog Millionare and the question "How did he do it?" came on screen.

The answer is, of course, d).

It is written.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I've almost been in Takeo a week now and I must confess that I've been sick basically the whole time. My days have been spent rolling around in bed feeling terribly sorry for myself. I've had a variety of awful and exaggerated flu-like symptoms. I went to a doctor ($228) in Phnom Penh and was tested for Malaria and Dengue and thankfully came back negative for both. I'm almost on the mend, but last night I had one of those coughs where you wake yourself up mid coughing fit, on the verge of death.

I've been quite upset as I was supposed to be teaching English classes this week and next. These photos of the kids playing and enjoying the rain are a nice reminder to look on the bright side of things. At least I'm sick in the place that most feels like home here in Asia. I can afford medical care. I'll be better soon. I'll be in Europe soon.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Do you have one piece of clothing/accessory, that regardless of how you're actually looking, makes you feel like a million dollars? Clearly these oversized glasses work the trick for this sweet little girl.

I'm back in Takeo, with my babies, for two weeks. I had contemplated not coming here, but I'm so glad I did.

Today I biked along the dirt roads, taught a little, giggled a little and had some sweet cuddles. Bliss.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Yesterday I was in Siem Reap. Every time i've been there I've wanted to go to the Angkor Hospital for Children to donate blood and I've never found the time. This time I decided I wouldn't let myself leave without donating. I've donated blood back home, but I have quite deep veins so it's always a painful process. Yesterday was no exception. The nurse struggled three times trying to locate a vein. I showed her that she had to hunt around my arm's crease, but she didn't. Finally a doctor came in and successfully found a vein, on the crease, first attempt. Today the three entry points are badly bruised. I look like some kind of addict. The doctor complimented my blood, score! Tourists make up the majority of blood donations, as Cambodians believe donating blood will make them weak and unable to work properly. I'll make it a habit whenever I'm in Siem Reap to pop in and give some love back to this wonderful country.

It probably wasn't the wisest decision to donate before transit. It was difficult (and painful) to carry my bags and the bandaids came off in the heat. I was collected for the bus at 12:30 - because the donation took so long I had no time for lunch - and we ended up waiting at the bus station for just shy of two hours for the bus. Due to the rain, the roads were in poor condition and the we were traveling a lot slower than I anticipated. I slept a lot, but was growing a bit tired of being on a bus.

Finally we stopped at a rest station and I sat down to order some food. A cute little girl came over to the table and leaned on a spare seat, smiling at me bashfully. I smiled back and she sat down. Soon her mother joined us, and they ordered too. I found it a little odd, considering the majority of the tables were free, but I was happy to have company. Throughout lunch I caught the girl sneaking glimpses of me and we exchanged awkward smiles. I noticed they were sharing a soup and wondered if it was because they couldn't afford a meal each. I decided to get the bill for the table (a whole $4.50) and went back to the bus. A few minutes later the little girl sat next to me, and leaned into me. I had my laptop, it was charged and fully equipped with The Lion King. We sat there, in the dark, on a wobbly bus, with an ear phone in each ear. Whenever there was a song, she'd tap me on the shoulder and give me the thumbs up. When the movie had finished I searched for music she might like and settled on Justin Bieber. It's my secret shame - Baby reminds me of the first time I was in Cambodia. This little girl didn't realise that just because she could hear the music while she sung along, didn't mean the rest of the bus could. We opened up Photo Booth and clearly had a blast. Eventually she fell to sleep curled up on a ball, resting her head on my lap.

I've said it before: Whenever I go through some kind of difficulty and overcome it with a happy mind, the universe seems to reward me. She was my reward, that bus ride was without a doubt the most amazing I've ever had and it is the very reason I travel. To have those moments with locals where you are separated by language and culture, but still you find some common ground. You enjoy each other's company in the most simple and pure ways. It was absolutely wonderful.

I'm taking a self imposed break from Facebook - not sure for how long. I'm just sick of it, tired of it... I feel like it's the same old stuff over and over. I try to live my life without regrets, but I think when I am 70 I'll certainly be disappointed in how much time I withered away on it!!! It's September and it's going to be a very exciting month for me :D